Good day to all the citizens of RadioLand! Our next show features one of the all-time greats in the world of music- the legendary Ray Charles. His birthday is September 23, so we are celebrating a little early with some rare Ray tunes and some of our favorite hits including his jazz work, early soul, modern sounds in country and western and more!
Ray was an enigma! He lived his life on his own terms, playing the hand that was dealt and chaning the course of music for all time. He basically invented soul by taking gospel tunes and melodys and creating non-religious lyrics. When he turned to country, he reinvented it in a way that simply had never been conceived before. You have to hear Ray sing country to really "get it".
Ray's bio from http://www.raycharles.com/:
Ray Charles was not born blind. In fact, it took almost seven years for him to lose his sight in its entirety, which means he had seven years to see the joy and sadness of this big wonderful world – a world he would never see again. As a seven year old child, in searching for light, he stared at the sun continuously, thereby eliminating all chances of the modern-day miracle, cornea transplants – a surgery unheard of in 1937.
Perhaps the reason that Ray Charles made music his mistress and fell madly in love with the lady is that music was a natural to him. Ray sat at a piano and the music began; he opened his mouth and the lyrics began. He was in absolute control.
But the rest of his life was not quite so simple. Ray was born at the very beginning of the Great Depression – a depression that affected every civilized country in the world. Ray was born in 1930 in Albany, Georgia, the same year that another Georgia native by the name of Hoagy Carmichael, was already making his mark on the world. In 1930, the year of Ray’s birth, Hoagy recorded a song that became an all-time classic and remains so to this day; a song titled “Stardust.” It’s ironic that these two Georgia natives would someday cross paths again, as they did 30 years later when Ray Charles was asked by the State of Georgia to perform, in the Georgia Legislative Chambers, the song they had selected as their state song. That song was Ray’s version of “Georgia,” written by Hoagy Carmichael. Hoagy, who unfortunately was too ill to attend the event, was listening via telephone/satellite tie-up.
Ray’s mother and father, Aretha and Bailey, were “no-nonsense” parents. Even after Ray lost his sight, his mother continued to give him chores at home, in the rural area in which they lived, such as chopping wood for the wood burning stove in the kitchen in order for them to prepare their meals. Chores such as this often brought complaints from the neighbors, which were met with stern words from Mrs. Robinson. She told them her son was blind, not stupid, and he must continue to learn to do things, not only for himself, but for others as well. Unfortunately, Ray lost the guidance of his mother and the counseling of his father at a very young age. At 15 years old, Ray Charles was an orphan, but he still managed to make his way in this world under very trying conditions; living in the South and being of African-American heritage, plus being blind and an orphan.
Ray refused to roll over and play dead. Instead he continued his education in St. Augustine, at Florida’s State School for the Deaf and Blind. A few years later, Ray decided to move. His choice was Seattle, Washington. It was in Seattle that Ray recorded his first record. It was also in Seattle that the seed was planted for a lifelong friendship with Quincy Jones.
In the decades since Seattle, Ray Charles made his contributions to the many facets of music in which he excelled. His awards are too numerous to mention all of them, but we would like to acknowledge eight honorary doctoral degrees, seventeen Grammys, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, President’s Merit Award and his Playboy Jazz Awards. He has been recognized repeatedly by Heads of State, Presidents, Premieres, Political Dignitaries and members of Royal families. He was chosen, by the King and Queen of Sweden, to receive the Polar Music Award, which is that country’s most prestigious award and is, recognized the world over. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #10 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and #2 on their list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”
Ray Charles died at 73 years old on June 10, 2004, two months before the release of his final album “Genius Loves Company”, which sold over 5 million copies earning 8 Grammys, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year and 4 months before the release of his Academy Award winning feature film Ray, portraying his life and career. Not only was the film critically acclaimed, but it earned more than $125 million worldwide and landed Jamie Foxx an Academy Award for Best Actor. Ray remains the most critically acclaimed musical bio-pic because of the manner in which it told the story of one of America’s greatest entertainers.